ACT Math : How to find positive tangent

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for ACT Math

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Example Questions

Example Question #2935 : Act Math

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For triangle , what is the cotangent of angle ?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The cotangent of the angle of a triangle is the adjacent side over the opposite side. The answer is 

 

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Example Question #2936 : Act Math

What is the tangent of the angle formed between the origin and the point  if that angle is formed with one side of the angle beginning on the -axis and then rotating counter-clockwise to ? Round to the nearest hundredth.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Recall that when you calculate a trigonometric function for an obtuse angle like this, you always use the -axis as your reference point for your angle. (Hence, it is called the "reference angle.")  

Now, it is easiest to think of this like you are drawing a little triangle in the third quadrant of the Cartesian plane. It would look like: 

Tan125

So, the tangent of an angle is:

  or, for your data, 

This is . Rounding, this is .  Since  is in the third quadrant, your value must be positive, as the tangent function is positive in that quadrant.

Example Question #2937 : Act Math

What is the tangent of the angle formed between the origin and the point  if that angle is formed with one side of the angle beginning on the -axis and then rotating counter-clockwise to ? Round to the nearest hundredth.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Recall that when you calculate a trigonometric function for an obtuse angle like this, you always use the -axis as your reference point for your angle. (Hence, it is called the "reference angle.")  

Now, it is easiest to think of this like you are drawing a little triangle in the third quadrant of the Cartesian plane. It would look like: 

Tan516

So, the tangent of an angle is:

  or, for your data, , or . Since  is in the third quadrant, your value must be positive, as the tangent function is positive in this quadrant.

Example Question #2938 : Act Math

A ramp is being built at an angle of  from the ground. It must cover  horizontal feet. What is the length of the ramp? Round to the nearest hundredth of a foot.

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Based on our information, we can draw this little triangle:


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Since we know that the tangent of an angle is , we can say:

This can be solved using your calculator:

 or 

Now, to solve for , use the Pythagorean Theorem, , where  and  are the legs of a triangle and  is the triangle's hypotenuse. Here, , so we can substitute that in and rearrange the equation to solve for :

Substituting in the known values:

, or approximately . Rounding, this is .

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